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Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga

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Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga

Fr. Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga (Mexico City, March 1966)

Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga (Joaquín Sáenz Arriaga; October 12, 1899 – April 28, 1976) was a Mexican Catholic priest and theologian. Jesuit from 1916 to 1952 he was later a harsh critic of the Second Vatican Council decisions and of the post-conciliar popes. He was declared excommunicated in 1972 by the Roman Catholic bishops' conference of Mexico. He is considered as the promoter of the sedevacantist ideas.


  • Traditionalism 1
  • Excommunication 2
  • Illness and death 3
  • References 4
  • Notes 5


As a young man Sáenz Arriaga was brought up in the spirit of the Cristero pressure group, Miguel Pro and other Catholic martyrs who fought against the Freemasonic and Communist government of Mexico in the 1920s, when some Catholics faced up to firing squads with the cry ¡Viva Cristo Rey! ("Long live Christ the King!").

Sáenz y Arriaga placed great emphasis on the Catholic doctrine of the "Kingship of Christ", which militates against secularism and the separation of church and state. When the Vatican II reforms began to be implemented in Mexico and North America, it was Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga who led the fight against the so-called 'neo-modernists'.

His uncompromising traditionalism led to a rejection of the "New Church" and he became the first to propound the doctrine of sedevacantism, which maintains that, since the death of Pope Pius XII, there has been a sede vacante in Rome because the following popes espoused the heretical teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Joaquín as a young seminarist in Barcelona in 1923.

Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga later incorporated these ideas in his books La nueva iglesia montiniana (The new Montinian Church) (1971), and Sede Vacante: Paulo VI no es Papa legítimo (Sede Vacante: Paul VI is no longer a legitimate Pope) (1973). In these books he stated that Paul VI had forfeited his papal authority through public, pertinacious and manifest heresy, a position which he had reportedly held for some time. He was a catalyzing influence on lay and clerical Catholic traditionalists who opposed the Vatican II reforms in Mexico and North America, persuading them to go independent, setting up independent chapels and churches and soliciting and procuring consecrations to create alternative lineages of bishops.


In reaction to his activities, the Mexican Cardinal Miranda officially declared that Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga had incurred excommunication. In response, Fr. Moisés Carmona, his associate and disciple wrote:

In the 1970s Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga founded, together with Frs. Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement.

Illness and death

According to his biographer, Antonio Rius-Facius, Fr. Sáenz died of prostate cancer on April 28, 1976.[2]

In his last testament, written three days before his death, Sáenz y Arriaga wrote: "My life and all that is most precious to me I have sacrificed for Christ, for the Church, and for the Papacy" and he added, "May the last cry of my soul be that of our Mexican martyrs — Long live Christ the King! Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe."[3]

After his death, Sáenz y Arriaga's work was continued by Frs. Adolfo Zamora and Moisés Carmona in Mexico; by Fr. Francis E. Fenton and his associates in the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement, and Fr. Burton Fraser, S.J. in the United States. In today's Mexico (2007), the Sáenz movement as a traditionalist Catholic movement, is dead. However, sedevacantists of the Unión Católica Trento still maintain several churches, chapels and one monastery.


  • Rius Facius, Antonio (1980). ¡Excomulgado! [Excommunicated! - trajectory and thought of presbyter Dr. Joaquín Sáenz Arriaga]; México: Costa Amic Editores (endnotes are taken from the 1983 edition).


  1. ^ "A usted lo excomulgaron por su fidelidad a Cristo, a sus enseñanzas, a su iglesia. ¡Bendita excomunión! Como sea por eso, que me vengan todas las excomuniones" - quoted in Rius-Facius, p. 155.
  2. ^ See Rius-Facius, pp. 180-89.
  3. ^ "Mi vida y todo lo más precioso que ella pudiera tener para mí la he sacrificado por Cristo, por la Iglesia y por el Papado [...]. Que el último suspiro de mi alma sea el de nuestros Mártires mexicanos: Viva Cristo Rey, Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!" - quoted in Rius-Facius, p. 185.
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